Friday, June 3, 2005

Allen Charge Delivered in Scrushy Trial

U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre delivered an Allen charge (see prior post for link discussing it) to the jury in the trial of Richard Scrushy.  The text of the charge (from the Birmingham News here):

Members of the jury:

I am going to ask that you continue your deliberations in an effort to agree upon a verdict and dispose of this case; and I have a few additional comments I would like for you to consider as you do so.

The trial has involved great time and exceptional effort by both the government and the defendant. If you should fail to agree on a verdict, the case is left open and must be tried again. I have no reason to believe that the case can be tried again better or more thoroughly that it has been tried before you.

Any future jury must be selected in the same manner and from the same source as you were chosen, and I have no reason to believe that the case could ever be submitted to 12 people more conscientious, more impartial, or more competent to decide it than you. You have heard all the relevant evidence and I have no reason to believe that either side could produce more or clearer evidence in a new trial.

If a substantial majority of your number are in favor of a conviction, those of you who disagree should reconsider whether your doubt is a reasonable one because it appears to make no effective impression upon the minds of the others. On the other hand, if a majority or even a lesser number of you are in favor of an acquittal, the rest of you should ask yourselves again, and most thoughtfully, whether you should accept the weight and sufficiency of evidence that fails to convince your fellow jurors beyond a reasonable doubt.

Remember at all times that no juror is expected to yield a conscientious conviction he or she may have as to the weight or effect of the evidence. But remember also that, after full deliberation and consideration of the evidence in the case, your duty is to agree upon a verdict if you can do so without surrendering your conscientious conviction.

You may be as leisurely in you deliberations as the occasion may require and should take all the time that you may feel is necessary. Your goal should never be to just return a verdict, but to return a just verdict.

I will ask now that you retire once again and continue your deliberations with these additional comments in mind to be applied, of course, in conjunction with all of the instructions I have previously given to you.

The dynamite charge can raise questions regarding improper judicial interference in the jury's deliberations if a guilty verdict is returned, especially when it does so in a short time after the charge is delivered.  Given the apparent deadlock that has persisted since last week, it's certainly an open question whether the above charge will have any effect. (ph)

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